Self-Discovery and Entrepreneurship with Cydney Irby

Meet Cydney Irby, a visionary entrepreneur, writer, and advocate for audacious living. In our conversation, she shares her journey from stumbling into photography as a teenager to founding her own business and embracing audacity as a guiding principle. Through challenges like imposter syndrome and a transformative year in 2024, Cydney discovered the power of self-care, collaboration, and staying true to her purpose. Her story is a testament to the limitless potential within each of us and the importance of pursuing dreams with heart and intention. Join us as we delve into Cydney’s insights, lessons learned, and aspirations for a life filled with joy, harmony, and meaningful success.

What inspired you to write “The Year of Audacity in the Name of Good”?

While the book is still being written, the concept first came about after living through 2023, which was the Year of Audacity in the worst way. While healing from a breakup and trying to determine what I wanted out of life, I deemed 2024 would be “The Year of Audacity in the Name of Good” amongst a few friends. It was about going all in on our dreams, what we want in our lives, and tapping into our limitless potential. 

This would be confirmed later publicly in a Monday Motivation video I created for socials where I’m eating tiramisu, one of my favorite desserts, for breakfast and enjoying a cup of espresso. 

Could you share a bit about your personal journey that led to founding your business at such a young age?

I stumbled into my first business in my late teens when I took up photography. I was only photographing my mom’s garden and creating self-portraits when my parents noticed my passion for it and bought me my first point-and-shoot camera. From there, I started coming up with creative photo sessions with friends and was asked to capture Senior Portraits for my best friend who was a year younger than me. Her mom actually surprised me with payment for them as a show of gratitude and that sparked the creation of my photography business. 

From there, I would always find my back to entrepreneurship. I became a founder of social hubs, like Dream On Youth, at age 22 with larger-than-life missions during my early years of college and a freelancer at age 30.

What were some of the biggest struggles or challenges you faced during your transformative year in 2024?

I would say the biggest struggle was my faith in my abilities and knowledge – most people probably know this as that pesky imposter syndrome – and even that I could succeed in the path of entrepreneurship, especially with being unemployed unexpectedly in late February. I’m a spiritual and optimistic woman, and still, there have been many tear, fear, and doubt-filled nights in these last few months. It’s all worth it. It just doesn’t make it less hard to walk through. 

How did you navigate these challenges, and what lessons did you learn from them?

Overall, having a solid support system makes so much of this journey we call life more beautiful. While I have the most supportive family, it also helps to have a solid group of friends who are also pursuing entrepreneurship. We’re all at different seasons in our journey, but the support is unmatched. We cheer each other on personally and professionally. No jealously. No competition. Just good vibes.

A few lessons I learned during this very transformative chapter:

You are not for everyone and you are not everyone’s forever so do everything with heart and good intentions.

Do not bulldoze your emotions. While feelings aren’t facts, they are valid. Honestly, they’re often your body or mind trying to tell you something. 

When you have self-love, you are never without love. When you have self-discipline, you have the key to success.

Your purpose in life is to be wholeheartedly, authentically you. There will never be another you. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

In your opinion, what role does audacity play in pursuing one’s passions and goals?

It plays a huge role in your success when it comes to one’s passions and goals, especially as an entrepreneur. To have audacity is to be bold and understand you don’t need external validation, you need will, wisdom, and heart. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

What advice do you have for other young women looking to start their own businesses or creative projects?

People often tell you to put blinders on and don’t follow the people doing something similar to you. I say this: There’s room for us all to win so when you do follow others who inspire you that may be in the same industry, you create an opportunity for connection and find new ways to benefit communities you love. Collaboration is key, especially when first starting to build your business or pursue a creative project. 

In the same breath, trust your intuition and if something, someone, or an environment feels off, know you have the authority to make an exit.

Can you tell us about a particularly impactful moment or experience that shaped your perspective or approach to life and work?

Probably my injury in 2023 when I suffered vertigo after getting severe heat exhaustion at my very first Bonnaroo during my Year of Music. It’s not the first impactful moment or experience I’ve had, but it was the most significant. 

I couldn’t get out of the bed for about 2 days without the room spinning. I couldn’t drive or write for weeks, nor walk in a straight line, and yet was still working. Thankfully I was living with a friend at the time so I had assistance at home, but it was terrifying. 

I cried about how I couldn’t write since all I ever wanted to do was compose music and write books. I cried over failing to take care of my body and my mind. I grieved over who I had been and would turn to my faith to try to get my life back in order through sheer will and discipline.

It was then I vowed to become the love of my life and stop letting work rule my time. I would heal my body through dance, which has been a favorite hidden hobby since I was little that I’ve done in the privacy of my home, and vow to start doing more things alone, simply because I wanted to enjoy the life I was building while I built it. 

How do you balance ambition and self-care, especially during times of intense growth or change?

Before all the many nicknames I’ve gotten over the years, I was known as the Queen of Self-Care. I’ve been learning how to self-care and what that looked like from season to season since my early 20s, probably before that. Obviously, I have seasons where I’m not great at it, but I always look at it as a proactive practice of love and discipline. 

If I say my self-care is a 10 of the scale of importance but I let my ambition bulldoze every moment of rest, play, and peace I get, that’s not work-life harmony. It’s not about having a perfect balance, it’s about “what does this season look for me and where can I afford to add moments for myself?”

Because if we don’t take the time to rest, our bodies and minds will do it for us, and it won’t be at times when it’s convenient.

So I take the time to set self-care time in my schedule as much as I set up a work schedule, and Sundays are for Sabbath. It’s extremely rare nowadays you’ll catch me working on a Sunday. 

What does success mean to you personally, and how has that definition evolved over time?

Success for me is joy, harmony, and wealth in all its forms. There are 8 dimensions of wellness – physical, emotional, occupational, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, social, and financial – so that’s what I equate to wealth. That sense of everything is working together in my favor in all areas of my life even if from the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem like it.

Are there any specific individuals or influences that have significantly shaped your journey and outlook?

My immediate family – mom, dad, and brother are the first 3 people that came to mind. From there, all the incredible people currently in my circle that I talk to on the regular. I’ve been showered with a lot of love throughout my lifetime, but especially within the last year or so and I’m eternally grateful.  

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That the only limitation they have in life is themselves. 

I know there are systems and other things stacked against us. As a Black woman in America who willingly chose to pursue freelancing after her corporate career, trust me, I know. 

I’m not saying to ignore those things and live in a land of delusion. Anything is possible and you can start over as many times as you need to. That’s the beautiful thing about life. 

People will say things are not possible because they have never seen it done before, especially people around you, and yet someone out there has the vision for it. Someone has the heart for it. Someone has the will for it and will find a way. And that someone is probably you. 

How do you stay motivated and inspired during periods of uncertainty or doubt?


Like I said, I started a Year of Music last year in late April where every month I was determined to experience something music-related and it’s basically a lifetime thing now. Whenever I feel off or need a pick-me-up, I’m turning on some music. It may be spiritual, it may be secular cause I need to shake something or belt it out. It may even be Disney songs cause I’m a big kid at heart. 

Any way you slice it, if there’s a single day I go without enjoying music whether I’m trying to motivate myself or get a bit of inspiration, someone check my temperature please. 

Could you share a bit about your creative process when writing or working on new projects?

I’m a gardener so what I like to do, after I’ve listened to music, is go outside and enjoy my container gardener, usually lay in the sun with my cat. I let my mind wander until an idea pops up and hopefully, I have a notebook, my phone, or my laptop nearby to capture whatever is happening. 

If I need to work on something inside, I’m throwing on some Lofi music to work too because if I hear lyrics, I am going to put on an entire one-woman show in my living room and I’d like to give my cat some peace sometimes. 

What are some key values or principles that guide both your personal life and your professional endeavors?

  • Key Principles:

    Treat everyone you meet with kindness. You never know what kind of day they’re having.
    Do everything with heart and you will always be highly favored.
    Discipline is the highest form of self-love. Act accordingly. 
    Be audacious and bold with your dreams, and learn the art of the pivot.
  • Key Values:

    Compassion, Integrity, Respect, Creativity, Growth

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations or goals for the future, both personally and professionally?

I genuinely want to do life with the people I love and enjoy the life I’m building, whatever that looks like. No two days look the same so putting a concrete aspiration or goal outside of that just feels off. 


Photo credits:  Photographer Joshua Daniel and Article Image is by Katelyn of The Hazel Club.

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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